Courses Involving Complementary and Alternative Medicine at US Medical Schools

Courses Involving Complementary and Alternative
Medicine at US Medical Schools

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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FROM:   JAMA 1998 (Sep 2); 280 (9): 784-787 ~ FULL TEXT


Miriam S. Wetzel, PhD; David M. Eisenberg, MD; Ted J. Kaptchuk, OMD

Office of Educational Development,
Harvard Medical School,
Boston, Mass, USA.

Context:   With the public's increasing use of complementary and alternative medicine, medical schools must consider the challenge of educating physicians about these therapies.

Objectives:   To document the prevalence, scope, and diversity of medical school education in complementary and alternative therapy topics and to obtain information about the organizational and academic features of these courses.

Design:   Mail survey and follow-up letter and telephone survey conducted in 1997-1998.

Participants:   Academic or curriculum deans and faculty at each of the 125 US medical schools.

Main Outcome Measures:   Courses taught at US medical schools and administrative and educational characteristics of these courses.

Results:   Replies were received from 117 (94%) of the 125 US medical schools. Of schools that replied, 75 (64%) reported offering elective courses in complementary or alternative medicine or including these topics in required courses. Of the 123 courses reported, 84 (68%) were stand-alone electives, 38 (31%) were part of required courses, and one (1%) was part of an elective. Thirty-eight courses (31%) were offered by departments of family practice and 14 (11%) by departments of medicine or internal medicine. Educational formats included lectures, practitioner lecture and/or demonstration, and patient presentations. Common topics included chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal therapies, and mind-body techniques.

Conclusions:   There is tremendous heterogeneity and diversity in content, format, and requirements among courses in complementary and alternative medicine at US medical schools.

From the Office of Educational Development (Dr Wetzel),
Harvard Medical School, and the Center for Alternative Medicine Research,
Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
(Drs Eisenberg and Kaptchuk), Boston, Mass.


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